War and Christmas. Soldiers and shoppers. Fear and festivities. Another holiday season on the home front. Lillian pulled her scarf closer around her neck as she gazed out the window of the Monday morning crosstown bus. A soft snow had begun to fall, bringing to life the early Christmas decorations in the store windows and highlighting the rows of Christmas trees that were lately set out. Lillian’s thoughts of war and Charles and the holiday season were interrupted by the sight of a woman walking briskly along the sidewalk. She was dressed in a deep green coat, swinging her arms, full of energy. Izzy.
Lillian got off the bus one stop early and called out to her friend, but Izzy was moving in some happy world of her own. Only when she paused to look at the Christmas decorations in a department store window, was Lillian able to catch up with her.
“Izzy, wait up!”
Izzy spun around. “Morning, Lilly!” She swept her arm towards the store window. “Just look at that – a real Christmas fairyland for the kids.” She thrust her hands into her pockets and looked up and down the avenue. “Don’t you just love this time of year? Everything so festive, everyone so happy.”
Lillian turned away from the miniature Christmas village in the window and raised her eyebrows at Izzy.
“I know. I’m like a kid.” Izzy lifted and dropped her shoulders with excitement. “I can’t help it. It’s going to be a wonderful Christmas! I can just feel it.”
“Okay,” said Lillian, linking her arm with Izzy’s as they headed towards Rockwell Publishing. “What’s changed since last week? I seem to remember you wishing the holidays were over.”
Izzy reached into her handbag, pulled out a letter, and waved it. “This!”
Lillian laughed at her exuberance. “Which one is that?”
Izzy pulled a face of mock offense and pressed the letter to her heart. “The only one I care about. Sergeant Archibald Reynolds. Archie,” she sighed. “He arrives next week for a two-week furlough.”
“Well that explains everything. Is that Handsome Kansas?”
“Handsome Kansas? Heavens, no! Kansas got married in June. And he really wasn’t all that handsome. It was just that line about bringing me a sodie pop that initially charmed me. No,” she sighed again, “Archie is the one from Yonkers. Really, Lilly, he’s perfect. Funny, charming, handsome – and madly in love with me.”
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